Posted in Now on the Outside, Outreach

Dinner with a Scientist

Once upon a time, I was asked to come up with an activity to do with students at Canyon Elementary School in Cataldo, ID; in return they would feed me, and other participating scientists, dinner.  Trading in my traditional St. Patty’s day garb of green tinted beer goggles for my metaphorical sMartian space helmet I agreed to find some way to bring a little bit of Mars to Cataldo, ID.

Turns out that deciding to do something is the easy part, I could not for the life of me think up a cool project that would have any tie-in to Mars.
“Why did it have to do with Mars?” asks those new to reading this blog
Well there new friend, ignore the resounding snickers of the more veteran readers and read back a few posts of ol’ aunty Two Step’s and you’ll find your answer.

Seriously though, of course it had to do with Mars.  I wanted to talk about my adventures on sMars and then be able to pass on some knowledge about rMars (real Mars).  I let my inner child guide me and came up with something that combined rovers, balloons (and the potential for balloon animals), the physics of trajectories, and PRIZES!

Basically, I made a little lander pod similar to the ones used by Spirit and Opportunity, put a bouncy ball prize in it, and let groups of students decorate it and then protect it by putting balloons on it (to simulate an airbag landing).  Then I had them throw their “rover lander” and try to hit a mark on the floor that they couldn’t necessarily see.

All in all it worked great and we all had a bunch of fun.  Here are the instructions and resources I used and I encourage you all to try it out and send me some pictures of your results!

Keep on dancin’,


Rover Drop Outreach Event 2


Posted in Now on the Outside

Every ending…

…is just the beginning of a new adventure.

I have been putting this off, dearest friends and readers. My life these last 9 months has been incredible.  I’ve journeyed to Mars and returned home and as much as I felt like an astronaut I couldn’t help but feel like John Carter too.  Instantly teleported to Mars without really knowing the rules or how to survive there, thinking the world of myself only to find out how small I really am and how much I have to learn still.  October 16th, Day 1 in the Dome, wakey wakey Martian Lady…

You’ve been with me on that journey, been with me for the changes and challenges, successes and failures, and now we come to the end.  The overwhelming sentiment is that there are no ends, just different ways to begin again.  Since returning from sMars I’ve felt like two different people, Astronaut Sophie and Sophie Carter.

Astronaut Sophie returns to the world strong and confident, another conquest under her belt and some amazing experiences that she will never forget.  Sophie Carter woke up on June 14th and for the second time in her life awoke on a new planet, she is somewhat more fragile than she used to be and despite loving Earth, she misses the simplicity of Mars.  While technically at home neither women really feet at-home.

And so here I am, a true Gemini/schizophrenic unable to combine the two parts of myself into a cohesive whole but do not despair for I am in a good place.  From these two women I will forge a new person, someone to combine their best traits and to overcome their most difficult challenges and thus be the best of both of them. Being outside the dome after so long is difficult, everything is both new and old and somewhat tinted by the fact that for the next few months I can truly (aka joblessly) appreciate them.

The future holds many great things for me, after spending eight months never going more than a mile away from home I’ll now be traveling hundreds of miles to see my family and friends.  I’ll be going to the Forbes 30 under 30 summit in Philadelphia to network with my peers and explore a new city.  I’ve got my dog, hedgehog and hunny bear back and we have all kinds of plans to go camping and see concerts and generally have an amazing time in this beautiful place that we are living. Thank you for reading, supporting, and sending funny pictures of buff Kangaroos.  Thank you for sharing in my adventures.

Your “Dome Soph” no longer,

Sophie Claire Milam


Posted in Now on the Outside

Martian Mother’s Day MIRACLE!

Dearest Readers,

As all miracles must, this story starts with an intrepid young protagonist just trying to make their way in this crazy world.

Cast list:
Intrepid young protagonist: Mrs. Pots (my desk’s flower-pot)
Crazy world: sMars, HI-SEAS habitat, the Dome formerly known as Gallifrey

Mrs. Pots just wanted to GROW, she was going to escape her pot of dirt and make it to the sky, that wonderous white wilderness above her with its rectangular sun and seemingly temperature controlled air.  She knew what she had to do and by Jove she was on her way.

It took her a while, but like so many other explorers on sMars she was determined, dedicated, and driven by a boundless enthusiasm.  Like Icarus she reached for that bar-like sun with an illogical faith that one day she would get there.  To steal a bit from Douglas Adams, the light was the way to… the light was the way that… the Light was the Way.  Unlike Icarus, she actually did get there:

Mrs. Pots finds the light.
Mrs. Pots looked up at the light and knew that it was the way to… that the light was the way of the… that the Light was the Way. There we go, capital letters make everything better. (Thanks Douglas Adams, constant inspiration)

Having reached her goal she was elated, the faith and self-confidence had paid off, her long journey was over, she had reached the promise land.  Like a pin to her joyous balloon, her more practical side quietly posed that most heart wrenching sucker punch of a question: what now?

What now… well I mean… does there need to be a what now?  We’re here!  Mission accomplished!

Feeling suddenly very tall and lonely, Mrs. Pots puzzled over this question.  I tried to help her realize how amazing I thought she was but she was down in the dumps.

Look at my plant, my plant is amazing!
Look at my plant, my plant is amazing!
Mrs. Pots doesn't feel amazing, she feels sad and alone on this barren world...
Mrs. Pots doesn’t feel amazing, she feels sad and alone on this barren world…

How does one renew the vigor of a plant so wrought with the blues? (I mean she is definitely still a healthy green but you know, the other blues)  So instead of focusing on the blues I told her about the reds, and yellows and oranges and whites and purples.  I told her, in that omniscient Morgan Freeman narration voice that seems to come from On High and fill the listener with purpose and inspiration, that her destiny wasn’t done yet, that her future held more that just green and blue.  For she was a flowering plant.  Her mission to make it to the “sun” wasn’t just frivolity but necessity, to get the energy to go make her own flowers and bring beauty to the lives of those around her.  Most especially that she had a part to play in the day of mothers soon to come.

And with a little help from her DomeSoph companion, she truly shown that Sunday.  Resplendent in the early morning light, her green adorned in shades of yellow, orange, red and purple to bring out her beauty and re-inspire her growth.  With her leaves raised to the “sun” she salutes mothers everywhere as she is working to bear her own little ones to brighten up the dome.

Photo May 10, 10 19 15 AM Photo May 10, 10 19 05 AM Photo May 10, 10 19 23 AM

And there you have it, a tale of overcoming adversity, faith, beauty, friendship, and, of course, love.  For this little plant Love, Love is like Carbon Dioxide, Love lifts you up to the “sun” where you belong, all you need is Love!

Dry those tears of joy readers, and go hug your mamas, yayas, babas, and babies (mine have fur and quills) like I wish I could.

Happy Mother’s Day

Dome Soph Out!

Posted in Dome sweet dome, Now on the Outside, Recovered

Birthday Boys

October 21, 2014

Ben, you and i fight the most out of anyone in our family, and sometimes these fights have lead to some pretty rowdy throw downs or storm outs, like that one time in Kanding… but regardless of that I’ve learned so much from you and I’ve never stopped being impressed with you even though sometimes I have hated to admit it.  So here’s to Ben:


The sweet and lovable…


The silly and charismatic…


The deep thinker and wide wanderer…


and a real pillar of support and encouragement in our family.


I love you even when we fight, I admire you even when I make fun of you, and I look up to you even I’m looking down from Mars 🙂 Happiest of birthdays Broski.

Now there is another man I love who happens to have the exact same birthday as my dear brother and this is my best friend and confidant and partner, Casey.


He is cuddly and kind (not to mention a total BAMF!)…


Fun loving and creative…


A bit of a clown :P…


but full of potential, love and a deep sense of honor.

I depend on him for so much and he’s too humble to know it; he’s taught me so much about being a better friend and person, and has supported me in every passion, desire, and opportunity I’ve ever had.  Happy Birthday PizzaShark!

I am so truly lucky to have such wonderful guys in my life and very fortunate to only have to remember one birthday for these two characters.  My life may be simpler and less frustrating without them but it would also be less fun, less interesting, and lacking a great deal of love.

I’ll bring all my readers another update on the dome and how we weathered the storm but until then, I hope you can join me in wishing these two guys a very happy birthday and many more to come!

Posted in Now on the Outside, Recovered

Closing this Year

December 31, 2014
New Years Eve, a day to remind yourself of all that is good in your life and to prepare yourself for the next year. Allen had the wonderful idea to make a video wishing people around the world a really wonderful  New Year and I had so many people to mention that I never got the chance to get everyone in there.  This is lacking a few people too that I just could’t find pictures of and would have made for a half hour video instead of this nice short clip you get here.  So Daren, Duffy, Grandpa Bob, Baba, Todd, Dahlgren, Uncle Ben, Sam, Lydia, Uncle Bob, Alex, Andy, Unkie Stanley, Lisa, Colin, Camis, Dean, Arthur, Diana, Cunneen, Papa D, Paul, Austin S, Nick, Ben J, Eric, Beth, Eddie, Nigel and anyone else I could possibly have missed.  I love you all!

Here is the YouTube video up from our whole crew giving shout-outs to our family and friends from around the world:

All is well in the dome and I hope you enjoy this little video I made.  It is actually very special to me because the music in it was given to me by an extremely talented woman in Greece, Lara Eidi, and her band who can be found on Facebook.  She sent the music after talking with my Aunt Dahlgren (thanks Dahlgren!) please go check them out, Lara is the vocals in the music and I must say I was totally blown away by the warmth and clarity of her voice.  

We are so lucky to have such wonderful people supporting us and encouraging us in our mission and for all the new friends like Lara that we are meeting through this experience.


Posted in Now on the Outside, Recovered

Moment of Silence

January 14, 2015

Right now at the University of Idaho in Moscow a moment of silence is being held in the food court.  Cruel and senseless violence took three people’s lives and put one in the hospital but it has affected thousands.  For all of those at the University of Idaho who are hurting, for all those in Moscow, ID who feel less safe, for all those who grieve for friends, family, and loved ones I am sorry for your loss.  Not just the loss of life but the loss of security you feel in your community.

I am a transplant to Idaho, I lived there for a little over two years but it doesn’t take a native to recognize the strength, compassion, and sense of togetherness within the University and Moscow.  Vandals and Idahoans are kind and strong and I know they’re pulling together to help each other through this time and I’m so proud to be a Vandal.

Rest in Peace David Trail, Belinda Niebuhr, and Terri Grzebielski

Get well soon Michael Chin, all of sMars is rooting for you!